A report of the SHRM Foundation states that “half of all senior hires fail within 18 months in a new position and half of all hourly workers leave jobs within the first 120 days”. Early attrition could be the result of feeble onboarding. Weak onboarding results in employees feeling inadequate and lost even after having been in the organization for a considerable period.
A new employee, when joining an organization, has a fear of the unknown. The scope of the organization, the department or project can be overwhelming. It becomes the responsibility of the organization to ensure that this fear of a new employee is allayed by clearly defining the scope of his work and providing avenues for learning and contributing; the employee needs to be “effectively onboarded”. Effective onboarding increases the likelihood of employees staying with the organization.
So, who is responsible for effective onboarding and what constitutes good onboarding practice?
Though onboarding is most often viewed as the job of the Human Resources department, the hiring managers have as much responsibility, if not more, in ensuring that employees are onboarded accurately. Areas of onboarding that hiring managers need to pay attention to include:
Analysts in the hiring space stress the importance of using a clear job title and description that does not confuse the employee about his role. It is important that HR and hiring manager are on the same page with respect to the job description. Glassdoor, a popular hiring and recruitment portal lists best practices for writing great job descriptions – not using eccentric and vague job titles, describing how the job roles ties in with the organization’s mission and culture, avoiding a laundry list of skill requirements and settling on a preferred minimum, formatting the description to make it reader-friendly on different platforms and finally using competitive intelligence to better the job description.
Though an employee, at the time of applying for a position will have gone through the job description, the final interpretation of the job cannot be left to the imagination of the employee. The employee is not always aware of the context in which the job description has been penned by the hiring manager. It becomes the prime responsibility of the hiring manager to take the time and effort to sit across the employee and describe his job, its context and his responsibilities.
A 2016 Gallup report on how millennials want to work and live states that only 40% of employees surveyed feel connected to their company’s mission. Employees, who are not in empathy with the organizational mission, very soon become disengaged. When candidates apply for positions in organizations, they seldom take a second look at the vision and mission of the organization. Their focus at that point is only on the job description and responsibilities. When onboarding new employees, it is the duty of the hiring manager to make sure that the employee sees his job role in the context of the vision and mission of the organization. Employee goals need to be in alignment with the vision, mission and strategy of the organization. It is equally important that the hiring manger allows the employee to see his targets in the context of departmental goals and responsibilities.
KRAs and KPIs
Employees who are presented with clear KRAs and KPIs have a defined agenda in the short run and can visualize a career path for themselves in the long run. Failure to define KRAs and KPIs, leaves the employees guessing about what does and what doesn’t fall under their purview. It is also the responsibility of the hiring manager to help employees understand the link between KPIs and performance appraisal. This allows the new hires to be goal and performance indicator oriented right from the beginning. In fast growth companies, KRAs sometimes become blurred. It is the obligation of the hiring manager to assure the employees upfront that any added KRAs will be included in their assessment during performance appraisal. This assurance will make sure that employee disgruntlement is avoided at a later stage.
Helping employees achieve goals
Linda Hill, Professor at the Harvard Business School says, “A manager’s job is to provide ‘supportive autonomy’ that’s appropriate to the person’s level of capability.” The key according to her is to be hands-on while giving people the room they need to succeed on their own. To ensure employee success, it is the duty of the manager to make resources available to employees from day one to help them take charge immediately. Any delays in providing access to workstation, emails and information that the employee needs to understand his job better will dampen new employee enthusiasm. It sends a wrong signal about the culture of the organization. The hiring manager will need to double check with the employee whether access to tools and resources is complete.
Team introduction, integration
It is important that the employee is formally introduced to his team. It is equally important that an employee understands the jobs and responsibilities of his team members. Understanding team interdependencies is critical for smooth work delivery. The prevailing practices of sharing information within the team is important to know. Positioning the seat of the new employee close to his team is a great way to allow the employee to smoothly integrate into the team. Day end follow up meetings with the new employee gives the hiring manager scope to address any unanswered questions that the employee might have.
Hiring managers may not always have the bandwidth to counsel the new employee. It is important to assign a suitable mentor to him for answering simple queries that a new employee is bound to have. It is proven that good mentoring results in an engaged workforce. A good mentor, among many other things, introduces the new employee to the work culture of the organization – what time to arrive, acceptable dress code, politics of organizational structure and the like. Having a good mentor gives the new employee confidence to move ahead successfully in the organization.
A hiring manager’s willingness and effort to enhance onboarding practices will go a long way in ensuring employee retention, engagement, and loyalty with organizations.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not those of the employer or any one else's.